An Overview Of the Bruckner Symphonies by Daniel Stavisky

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An Overview Of the Bruckner Symphonies by Daniel Stavisky

Post by danielstavisky » Sun Apr 18, 2010 12:47 pm

Partly because they both wrote long symphonies and partly because of Bruno Walter’s famous essay on the two, Bruckner and Mahler are often considered together. Yet there is more that fascinatingly links the two. Both wrote their symphonies in a period of no more than thirty years. Both showed a huge step in style between their third and fourth symphonies and their fourth and fifth. Their association is strengthened by, among other things, the fundamentals of their harmony, their styles of cadence and their fondness for symmetry and regular periodic structure. Both also revel in broadly built climaxes and in long sustained tensions, whose release requires overwhelming sonorous dynamics.

As a Mahlerian to the bone, I intend to give an overview of the Bruckner symphonies, giving my opinions on the best recordings along the way. Before I begin, something should be said for the fact that, if one includes symphonies 0 and 00, Bruckner actually recorded eleven symphonies. Mahler also wrote eleven symphonies, if one includes the Lied von der Erde (for which he was afraid to assign a number for reasons of ‘the curse of the ninth’, coming after his eighth symphony) and the tenth. At the time of Mahler’s death, the tenth was largely completed as a draft. For the likes of Simon Rattle, enough information about the score allows for a full recording of the piece. Others, such as Bernstein and Abbado conducted only the first movement arguing that this is the only one that can be attributed in every way to Mahler’s inentions. Others still such as Solti have chosen not to record the tenth at all. In this review, I intend to cover all eleven of Bruckner’s symphonies and provide an overview, giving recommended recordings for each one.

Although symphony number 0 (the ‘nullish’) was recorded between the first and the second, in view of its number I intend to review it before the first. I should also make clear that it is impossible to address the question of these symphonies without addressing the question of editions. There are five symphonies, symphonies 1-4 and 8, which have effectively more than one version. I am not going to attempt to argue which is the best version to own, only which edition of these versions is worth owning.

The classical, Schumannesque 00 was only ever intended as a ‘study’. Consequently, it has only seven recordings to its name. Without doubt the recording to buy is that of Tintner on Naxos. It is beautifully sculptured and spaciously paced. Moreover, this has a useful coupling that will otherwise be somewhat difficult to find: the 1878 Volksfest finale from the fourth symphony.

The nullte is an attractive work of some substance, the slow movement particularly fine. Tintener on Naxos is once again a clear recommendation as it comes coupled with a difficult- to- acquire first recording of the eighth. Chaiily with the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra and the more pacy Haitink on Philips are also recommended though, to my knowledge both of these are only available as part of box-sets.

Bruckner one, sometimes called by Bruckner ‘das kecke Beserl’ is a highly original work, more forthright in fact than some of his later symphonies. Haitink’s recording of the Haas edition with the Concertgebouw brings out the originality of the piece. Now available on Philips duo, it comes not only with Haitink’s earlier recording of the ninth (1965) but also with a blazing account of the Te Deum set down with the VPO in 1988. To hear what Bruckner’s first thoughts on the piece were, it would be useful to own Tintner’s recording played by William Carragan on Naxos. The main difference is in the finale. If one wishes to hear the extensive revisions Bruckner made in Vienna, both Chailly and Wand have set down decent performances with good sound.

The second symphony is in the same key as the first, though slightly darker. The 1872 version has Tintner’s wonderful recording on Naxos to recommend it. If you are wedded to Haas then Haitink’s 1966 recording is excellent (but strangely,of the symphonies, this is still not available as part of the Philips Duo series, which means one has to turn to the box- set). Wand’s 1981 version with the Cologne Radio Symphony Orchestra is not quite as convincing. If Haas is not an issue then Guilini’s recording with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra (1974) available on Testament, is without doubt a firm recommendation.

The third symphony, often referred to as the ‘Wagner’symphony (as it was to him the symphony was dedicated) is considered by some musicologists as deeply flawed and by others as his first piece of standard repertoire. As far as the 1873 version is concerned, Tintner once again is a firm recommendation, though some feel his tempo in the first movement is a little slow and prefer Inbal. The 1877 has two recordings by Haitink to recommend it, though personally I prefer the tauter Concertgebouw from 1963 to the VPO’s 1988 remake. Unfortunately, the 1888-89 version provides less competition. Barbirolli’s 1964 is lacking in atmosphere and feels clustered. While Skrowaczewski loses some of the grandeur that Haitink brings to the outer movements and there is an odd tempo for the theme of the finale, at budget price, this would have to be the clear favourite for this particular version.

The fourth is one of Bruckner’s most popular works, despite the fact that Bruckner still never seemed to solve the structure of the finale. As far as the 1874 version is concerned, one version stands out clearly and it is that of Inbal (Tintner did not record the first version of the fourth symphony). Of the 1881 version, there is a huge variety of choices. For a Mahlerian sound, Walter’s 1960 recording with Columbia has much to recommend it. For a more idiosyncratic reading, try Klemperer. Bohms 1973 recording for Decca is superb (preferable to Karajan’s 1975 DG recording). Tennstedt (a man not normally associated with Bruckner) made an impressive recording with the BPO in 1982. Wand’s 1998 performance with the BPO is also a majestic performance that cannot be overlooked and with Bohm’s, probably leads the pack.

Whatever one concludes about the symphonies the preceded the fifth, there is not doubt that the fifth and those which came afterwards, were works of a truly great nature. In my opinion, the fifth is one of the greatest of Bruckner’s symphonyies and it id tragic that he never actually heard it performed live. For this symphony, Haitink’s 1971 recording is excellent, but just as with the fourth, his later remake with the VPO in 1988 is even more impressive. Horenstein’s, now available on BBC Legends, is perhaps the most commanding, with a fine flowing tempo and a sense of perfect control about it.

The sixth is probably the most underrated of the Bruckner symphonies. It is the shortest and the lightest of the latest works. For this piece, Tintner’s (played with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra) is a sound bargain choice. Colin Davies with the LSO is excellent live, held back only with a scherzo which drags, at times, painfully. The LSO, nevertheless, play with a crisp precision that the NZSO simply cannot match, despite their great helmsman.

The seventh is quite simply a marvellous work, containing some of the sunniest and darkest of the composers emotions. (It rather reminds me in some ways of the insanity of Schumann’s second). For the seventh there are many recommendations. Tintner’s 1996 is the obvious bargain choice, a superb recording all round. The only recording that comes close to challenging it is Gunter Wand’s 1999 recording. This is an impressive recording characterised by long phrases with a splendidly paced finale.
The eighth is another magnificent work. Of the Haas edition, Karajan’s third and last 1988 recording with the VPO, shortly before his death, is a fine one to own. Wand’s recording in 2001 is equally as thrilling a swansong, full of humility and humanity. As far as the Nowak version is concerned, Horenstein’s 1955 recording for Vox takes some beating. Of a more specialist interest is a 1972 recording made by William Steinberg with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. It’s a good, well paced and powerful reading, well played by the Bostonians, and as this under-rated conductor didn’t record the Eighth commercially it’s good to have this available. Unfortunately, however, it’s only very expensively available at present in the BSO’s Symphony Hall Centennial Celebration boxed set, available direct from the BSO.

Unfortunately, Bruckner failed to complete the ninth as he was too busy making revisions to his earlier symphonies. The symphony ends at the third movement adagio. Walter’s 1959 recording still remains the top recommendation, despite its age. Horenstein’s is an impressive recording, grand and spacious in its first movement, while the adagio glows. Giulini’s 1986 recording with the Chicago contains all the spiritual elevation one associates with this great conductor. Finally, there is a great integrity to Tintner’s recording with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra that is a little rugged, but nevertheless, wholly convincing. One would expect no less from Tintner.

I have mentioned in my reviews of Mahler that there are advantages and disadvantages to purchasing a box-set. I do not wish to reiterate these again, only to mention that my key argument centres around an integrity that comes from unity of vision. This does not of course work in all cases and can defeats the object if you do not supplement ‘bad’ recordings in the set with substitutes. If I had to recommend a cycle, Tintner’s would be an obvious first choice. Tintner is a conductor of character who goes for Bruckner’s first thoughts (except in the fourth and in the 0 for which they are no longer extant, in which case he uses the 1881). Tintner’s tempi are slow at times (such as in the first movement of the third and the adagio of the eighth). His reading of the second symphony is the high point of the set.

In contrast, Skrowakzewski opts for Bruckner’s last thoughts. The individual symphonies were initially released on Arte Nova at super-budget price but at the time of writing, this set (an excellent overall set, which does include the 00 and the 0) sells at around £90. Wand and Karajan are both a little ‘top-heavy’ with little regard for the symphonies leading up to four. Jochum’s two sets will always have their followers (though I am not one) and who will vehemently argued that I have overlooked him in this review. There are other cycles by Chailly, Solti and Barenboim. Solti is crisp and virtuosic. His sixth is impressive and his ninth simply outstanding, though the third and the fifth are somewhat disappointing. Chailly’s is full of rich and fascinating detail. Like Chailly’s Mahler, the distant sound of horns gives the music a different atmospheric perspective. The 1960-72 set of Haitink’s, re-released, repackaged and reduced in 2005 are a set worth having. Meanwhile, Barenboim’s accounts with the BPO, with outstanding versions of 3,4,5 and 9 are an unmissable bargain which, at £15, will take some beating as far as value for money is concerned.

(Daniel Stavisky, April 2010, Manchester)
Last edited by danielstavisky on Wed Apr 21, 2010 8:12 am, edited 1 time in total.

hangos
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Re: An Overview Of the Bruckner Symphonies by Daniel Stavisky

Post by hangos » Sun Apr 18, 2010 1:04 pm

Daniel
Thanks for posting an extremely well-devised and considered thread, which should be of considerable interest to many here on CMG.
My choices don't always match yours - for the 6th I prefer Klemperer's 1960s EMI recording, alongside which Davis' LSO live pales a lot ; I wouldn't call the 6th the lightest of the series, surely the first two movements would negate that idea?
My two favourite 7ths are Blomstedt's Dresden and Chailly's Berlin RSO recordings, although I think Celibidache's Munich recording of the great adagio is (although typically slow) beyond compare.
The 5th I still don't really understand, but Sinopoli's Dresden recording does its best :oops:
Here's hoping you get lots more replies
Best wishes
Martin

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Re: An Overview Of the Bruckner Symphonies by Daniel Stavisky

Post by Barry » Sun Apr 18, 2010 1:32 pm

The Bruckner symphonies, especially 4-9, are among my favorite works, so I always appreciate it when someone brings up the topic of best recordings of them.

I agree that the BPO does a wonderful job in the fourth, but I would go with the Jocum/DG and Karajan/EMI recordings that they made. I prefer the former for a more aggressive approach, and the latter is IMO better than the Bohm/VPO recording for something a bit slower and more reverential in approach.

For five, again, I turn to Jochum, but I think his best available performance is one of his final ones, a live performance with the Concertgebouw Orchestra from 1986 that's on Tahra.

For six, while the first Bruckner recording to really grab me and pay attention to his music was the Klemperer/EMI sixth, I later discovered the Celibidache, also on EMI, and probably consider that my single favorite Bruckner recording, although I'm not generally a big Celi booster.

I think Karajan is tops in the seventh, and while I like his VPO recording on DG, my preference is again for the one on EMI with the BPO.

I agree with the recommendation for Karajan and the VPO for the eigth, only I think the live performance they gave about a decade earlier that's out on a DG DVD is even better.

For nine, Giulini/VPO is my fav0rite, but for a different approach, I also like Jochum/BPO very much.
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Re: An Overview Of the Bruckner Symphonies by Daniel Stavisky

Post by Seán » Sun Apr 18, 2010 3:12 pm

Very interesting post Daniel, well done.
Seán

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Re: An Overview Of the Bruckner Symphonies by Daniel Stavisky

Post by Fergus » Sun Apr 18, 2010 3:30 pm

I also thoroughly enjoyed your post Daniel; it gives much food for thought. I do agree on Tintner and Bruckner....his recordings should be in every Bruckner collection.

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Re: An Overview Of the Bruckner Symphonies by Daniel Stavisky

Post by stenka razin » Sun Apr 18, 2010 3:53 pm

A very nice essay. But, my first choice would be the great Eugen Jochum's DG set. Overll, Jochum has the forward momentum that Bruckner's great Symphonies, need. If a more up to date Jochum set is required try the EMI set.
Other great sets that I own and love are Karajan and Solti amomg many other 'completes' that I own. I have listened to and loved Bruckner for over half a century. In fact, the 8th and 5th in that order are the two most powerful Symphonies I have ever heard. 8)
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Re: An Overview Of the Bruckner Symphonies by Daniel Stavisky

Post by John F » Sun Apr 18, 2010 8:57 pm

The first Bruckner symphony I got to hear in concert, and indeed at all, was #7 as played by the Concertgebouw Orchestra under Eduard van Beinum. I still like the Decca/London recording they made of it, and also #8 (Haas version) and #9 for Philips. The other conductor whose Bruckner I keep coming back to, and who strangely hasn't yet been mentioned here, is Wilhelm Furtwangler, again in #7, 8, and 9, also highly dramatic though in a quite different way.
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Re: An Overview Of the Bruckner Symphonies by Daniel Stavisky

Post by absinthe » Mon Apr 19, 2010 7:29 am

A nice essay/précis! Thank you. :)
Always nice to come across someone writing about Bruckner.

I have 2 historical part-complete and 1 complete historical boxed sets that I sometimes turn to, not often except the Andreae, but after much listening I've built up a collection of individual releases as I've found no conductor who handles all these works equally and well. E.g. I love Klemperer's 6th but not his 4th where the tempi seem too flattened out. A few recordings of the 8th make a big deal about the harp part, treating it more as a solo than part of the ensemble. I rejected Blonstedt's recording over that though I'm very happy with his 7th - perhaps the 8th was sound-cart intervention. My favourite 8th at the moment is Jochum's 1982 recording with the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra.

The matter of versions is still wide open. I'm developing an interest in the first published versions, formerly discredited for many reasons though I've pretty-well dismissed Loewe's rewriting of the 9th torso. Very few recordings exist. At least these editions represent what Bruckner and others would have heard at the time until Haas started sorting them out.

For anyone interested in recommendations and recording comparison of the individual symphonies, here's a link to MusicWeb International's survey. There's a tendency to support Tintner's recordings for Bruckner's initial thoughts - but of course, even Bruckner didn't like all his first thoughts so some later revisions are probably worth a listen, the 8th in particular.

http://www.musicweb-international.com/c ... rticle.htm

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Re: An Overview Of the Bruckner Symphonies by Daniel Stavisky

Post by Harold Tucker » Mon Apr 19, 2010 10:27 am

I have no idea how the writer can say that Klaus Tennstedt's name isn't associated with the Bruckner symphonies. On my planet he had a great reputation with these works during his lifetime and in his recorded legacy.

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Re: An Overview Of the Bruckner Symphonies by Daniel Stavisky

Post by stenka razin » Mon Apr 19, 2010 11:50 am

Harold Tucker wrote:I have no idea how the writer can say that Klaus Tennstedt's name isn't associated with the Bruckner symphonies. On my planet he had a great reputation with these works during his lifetime and in his recorded legacy.

I agree completely. Tennstedt was great Bruckner maestro. Look below for an EMI 2 CD set of the 4th and 8th. 8)

I saw Tennstedt's USA debut with the Boston Symphony in the 8th in the 1970's and he was sensational and the audience loved him. I saw him at Tanglewood rehearsing Bruckner and he was in perfect harmony with the great Bostonians. Tennstedt was one of the top 'supremos' in the conducting world. He left us all too early. He rose like a meteor and did not live long enough, sadly.. :( :( :( :(

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Re: An Overview Of the Bruckner Symphonies by Daniel Stavisky

Post by Jack Kelso » Mon Apr 19, 2010 12:09 pm

Tintner was truly a superb Bruckner interpreter. But I prefer Klemperer for the Sixth and Walter for the Fourth and Ninth.

Thielemann should be mentioned for the exceptional Fifth he recorded, absolutely one of the finest available.

How about the Eighth? I am happy with Jochum's and---more recently---Pierre Boulez with the wonderful Vienna Phil.

Both Jochum and Karajan perform a fine First, my fav before the magnificent Fourth.

Tschüß,
Jack
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Re: An Overview Of the Bruckner Symphonies by Daniel Stavisky

Post by maestrob » Mon Apr 19, 2010 12:46 pm

Jack Kelso wrote:Tintner was truly a superb Bruckner interpreter. But I prefer Klemperer for the Sixth and Walter for the Fourth and Ninth.

Thielemann should be mentioned for the exceptional Fifth he recorded, absolutely one of the finest available.

How about the Eighth? I am happy with Jochum's and---more recently---Pierre Boulez with the wonderful Vienna Phil.

Both Jochum and Karajan perform a fine First, my fav before the magnificent Fourth.

Tschüß,
Jack
Thank you, Jack, for mentioning Thielemann's Bruckner V: one of the finest Bruckner recordings ever made.

Bruckner's III-IX have been on my playlist since my teenage years, when Columbia issued the following recordings, still highly regarded by yours truly, and now sadly deleted:

III, VIII: Szell/Cleveland
IV, VII, IX: Bruno Walter/Columbia Symph

Over the years, I've acquired lots of alternate versions, notably Wand/Cologne, but have never been impressed with Wand's "swan song" Berlin recordings, which, to my ears, sound weak and uncontrolled. Instead, I've been impressed with the following:

Tintner's and Skrowaczewski's complete cycles

V: Thielemann
VI: Klemperer or Steinberg/Boston
VII: Paavo Jarvi
VIII: HVK
IX: Fabio Luisi

In short, while those earlier Columbia recordings have been superseded by later digital renderings, they remain on my playlist as pioneering efforts with superb musicianship and excellent sound for the day that stands up well against their digital counterparts.

IMHO, there has not been a IV yet made to top Bruno Walter's excellently paced and recorded version.

Bohm, to me, lacks orchestral discipline, coherence and momentum in his readings, but that's just my personal preference. I don't care for his Beethoven, either.

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Re: An Overview Of the Bruckner Symphonies by Daniel Stavisky

Post by Heck148 » Mon Apr 19, 2010 2:29 pm

My fondness for Bruckner really starts with Sym #3 - the earlier ones are OK, but with #3 Anton really begins to hit his stride:

my faves, at present:

#3 - Solti/CSO
#4 - Walter/ColSO, Barenboim/CSO from 70s

#5 - ?? not sure - I've never really connected with this work - too big, sprawly and disjointed perhaps??...no one has completely turned me on to this huge work, tho I'd love to hear what Solti does with it...

#6 - Solti/CSO - one of his very best Bruckner efforts - this one just crackles with excitement from the very edge.

#7 - lots of candidates:

von Matacic/CzPO
Solti/CSO
Walter/ColSO
Tennstedt/CSO - live archive set - "CSO in the 20th Century"

best #7 scherzo [deserves special mention] - Barenboim/CSO

#8 - Both Soltis - VPO and CSO
Szell/Cleveland

#9 - lots to choose from here, also -

Walter/ColSO
Solti/CSO
von Matacic/CzPO
Barenboim and Giulini/CSO are both deserving of mention, also.
Mravinsky/LenPO certainly provides an interesting, and different approach.

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Re: An Overview Of the Bruckner Symphonies by Daniel Stavisky

Post by THEHORN » Mon Apr 19, 2010 5:32 pm

A thought-provoking evaluation of the recordings you surveyed.
As with every composer,I can't choose one single favorite of any of the Bruckner symphonies, but here are some very fine ones I've heard over the years,on LP,
CD and cassette.

o. Marriner:
Stuttgart Radio symphony,on Laserlight. Excellent and dirt cheap.

1. Claudio Abbado, VPO. Decca. I haven't heard his DG remake with the same orchestra, but this is the version I got to know this puzzlingly neglected symphony.
I have Chailly on Decca, which I also admire, and recently borrowed Solti/Chicago from my library which I also enjoyed very much.
Chailly uses the revised Vienna version, but I prefer the original Linz one.

2. Alexander Rahbari, Brussels Radio orchestra, (obscure Belgian label whose name I can't recall offhand). Also excellent and cheap.
Karajan/BPO/DG. Tintner/Irish National Orch, Naxos. The much longer original, with scherzo first and adagio second. Interesting, but not quite as structurally coherent.
Horst Stein, VPO, Decca LP.

3. Boehm,VPO,Decca. Haitink,Concertgebouw, Philips. Inbal,Frankfurt RSO (original version. ) . Knappertsbusch,VPO,Decca(should definitely be reissued on CD). Karajan,BPO,DG. Wand, Cologne RSO, EMI.

4. Inbal,Frankfurt .Teldec. Excellent performance of the radically different original, with a completely different scherzo instead of the familiar hunting one.
This is hardly recognizable if you know the familiar version, except for the use of the same basic thematic material.
Klemperer,EMI,Philharmonia,on LP. Boehm,VPO, I've heard it on LP and CD.
Karajan,BPO, DG and EMI. Wand, NDR symphony,R.C.A.
Kubelik,Bavarian RSO, Sony. Mehta,L.A. Phil. Decca. Should definitely be reissued on CD. Herreweghe, Champs Elysees Orchestra, Harmonia Mundi. HIP Bruckner. Good, but I can hardly hear any difference between it and other orchestras .

5. Klemperer,New Philharmonia,EMI. The version I learned this great symphony on, and I became so accustomed to its very broad tempi other performances sounded too fast to me, but I've since gotten accustomed to them.
Inbal,Frankfurt,Teldec. Furtwangler,BPO,live, DG. Unusually fast, but compelling anyway.

6. Skrowaczewski ,Saarbrucken RSO, Arte Nova, part of complete set.
Nagano, Berlin Deutsches Symphony, Harmonia Mundi. I hadn't heard this conductor in Bruckner before, but he has a sure command of this symphony, a diffficult work to bring off successfully.
Horst Stein,VPO,Decca. William Steinberg,BSO, R.C.A. One of his few recordings with this orchestra . Should be reissued on CD.

7. Welser-Most,LPO, EMI. Live . Frankly NOT worst than most. (This conductor's nickname used to be Frankly Worst Than Most in London).
Kurt Sanderling, Stuttgart Radio Symphony, Hanssler,live.

8. Furtwangler,VPO. Part of a six CD set of live Berlin and Vienna performances of various works, including Ravel !
I've never heard a greater performance of this sdymphony.
Carl Schuricht,VPO, Angel LP. Has been reissued on CD. The version I learned it on.
Karajan,VPO,DG. Haitink,Concertgebous,Philips. The later digital one.
Mravinsky,Leningrad Phil. A great performance if you can put up with the unbrucknerian Russian brass sound. Van Beinum,Concertgebouw. Columbia LP.

9. Yoav Talmi ,Oslo Philharmonic,Chandos LP. Includes the Caragan version of the finale. I'm a true believer in this controversial completion.
Giulini,VPO,DG. I've been bothered by the excessively slow tempi in this conductor's late performances, but they work in the 9th.
Schuricht,VPO, Seraphim LP. The first Bruckner recording I bought, exactly 40 years ago, and which made me a Brucknerian.
Wand, BPO, RCA. Bernstein,VPO, DG. One of his last performances anywhere.

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Re: An Overview Of the Bruckner Symphonies by Daniel Stavisky

Post by Jack Kelso » Tue Apr 20, 2010 12:59 pm

maestrob wrote:
Jack Kelso wrote:Tintner was truly a superb Bruckner interpreter. But I prefer Klemperer for the Sixth and Walter for the Fourth and Ninth.

Thielemann should be mentioned for the exceptional Fifth he recorded, absolutely one of the finest available.

How about the Eighth? I am happy with Jochum's and---more recently---Pierre Boulez with the wonderful Vienna Phil.

Both Jochum and Karajan perform a fine First, my fav before the magnificent Fourth.

Tschüß,
Jack
Thank you, Jack, for mentioning Thielemann's Bruckner V: one of the finest Bruckner recordings ever made.

Bruckner's III-IX have been on my playlist since my teenage years, when Columbia issued the following recordings, still highly regarded by yours truly, and now sadly deleted:

III, VIII: Szell/Cleveland
IV, VII, IX: Bruno Walter/Columbia Symph

Over the years, I've acquired lots of alternate versions, notably Wand/Cologne, but have never been impressed with Wand's "swan song" Berlin recordings, which, to my ears, sound weak and uncontrolled. Instead, I've been impressed with the following:

Tintner's and Skrowaczewski's complete cycles

V: Thielemann
VI: Klemperer or Steinberg/Boston
VII: Paavo Jarvi
VIII: HVK
IX: Fabio Luisi

In short, while those earlier Columbia recordings have been superseded by later digital renderings, they remain on my playlist as pioneering efforts with superb musicianship and excellent sound for the day that stands up well against their digital counterparts.

IMHO, there has not been a IV yet made to top Bruno Walter's excellently paced and recorded version.

Bohm, to me, lacks orchestral discipline, coherence and momentum in his readings, but that's just my personal preference. I don't care for his Beethoven, either.
Good grief, do we think alike! Böhm has never been one of my favorite conductors (except for R. Strauss). The Szell Bruckner Third I have, which I recorded from a record onto tape. Didn't know it isn't available.....just love the way he keeps the first movement moving (which it needs).

Walter's Fourth is truly in a class by itself, also according to my wife, me and musical friends. There's heart and soul there---and wonderful sound!

Paavo Järvi for the Seventh?! I guess I'll have to give that one a listen. I still enjoy the Seventh from the older Hans Rosbaud/Baden-Baden VOX recording (stereo!). I picked it up recently on CD in a record store for 2,99 Euro!!

Tschüß,
Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

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Re: An Overview Of the Bruckner Symphonies by Daniel Stavisky

Post by danielstavisky » Tue Apr 20, 2010 4:23 pm

An interesting question I'm going to throw into the pot is this : which conductors would you describe as Brucknerians? Would you describe Tennstedt as a Brucknerian, for example, or a Mahlerian who happened to conduct some Bruckner? Barenboim conducted the Bruckner cycle twice on vinyl. I personally would not call him a Brucknerian though I would call him a great all-rounder and a great Wagnerian too. Christoph von Dochnanyi, only recorded the third to the ninth, but he strikes me as a Brucknerian. Any thoughts on what qualifies a conductor as a Bruckerian and also as to who would qualify for that title? Just thought I'd put that question out for you to chew on.

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Re: An Overview Of the Bruckner Symphonies by Daniel Stavisky

Post by Barry » Tue Apr 20, 2010 4:38 pm

danielstavisky wrote:An interesting question I'm going to throw into the pot is this : which conductors would you describe as Brucknerians? Would you describe Tennstedt as a Brucknerian, for example, or a Mahlerian who happened to conduct some Bruckner? Barenboim conducted the Bruckner cycle twice on vinyl. I personally would not call him a Brucknerian though I would call him a great all-rounder and a great Wagnerian too. Christoph von Dochnanyi, only recorded the third to the ninth, but he strikes me as a Brucknerian. Any thoughts on what qualifies a conductor as a Bruckerian and also as to who would qualify for that title? Just thought I'd put that question out for you to chew on.
Some conductors who were maybe closer to being generalists became Brucknerians latere in life. I'm thinking of people like Celibidache and Wand. They conducted Bruckner for years, but focused on his music increasingly as they moved into their later years; to the point where I thought of them as Bruckner specialists. I guess I'd throw Tintner in there. And even though he conducted plenty of other music, Jochum focused on Bruckner to such an extent and for so long that I think he was clearly a Brucknerian (although I also consider him one of the three or four best Brahms conductors on record).

On Tennstedt, I think I'd fall a little short of calling him a Brucknerian. He conducted lots of it, but I associate him more closely with Mahler's music than with Bruckner's, especially when it came to commercial recordings.
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Re: An Overview Of the Bruckner Symphonies by Daniel Stavisky

Post by Chalkperson » Tue Apr 20, 2010 5:06 pm

Barry wrote:I guess I'd throw Tintner in there.
Unfortunate turn of phrase there, Barry, unfortunately Tintner killed himself by throwing himself off an 11 storey building in Nova Scotia after battling cancer for six years... :wink:
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Re: An Overview Of the Bruckner Symphonies by Daniel Stavisky

Post by danielstavisky » Tue Apr 20, 2010 5:07 pm

I'd completely agree with you on those. I'd also add Stanisław Skrowaczewski as a Brucknerian and a fine one at that. Yes very sad about Tintner. Apparently he was a man who lived his life with great integrity. Also a very talented composer, but unfortunately, according to his wife, “owing to a combination of personal tragedies, the loss of his culture and transplantation into alien lands where he was little understood,” his frustration led him into a state of enduring grief where, as far as composition was concerned, he(with the exception of only one work of any major significance) "fell silent for the last four decades of his life."

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Re: An Overview Of the Bruckner Symphonies by Daniel Stavisky

Post by Fergus » Wed Apr 21, 2010 3:25 am

Chalkperson wrote:
Barry wrote:I guess I'd throw Tintner in there.
Unfortunate turn of phrase there, Barry, unfortunately Tintner killed himself by throwing himself off an 11 storey building in Nova Scotia after battling cancer for six years... :wink:
That is quite sad....I did not know about that.

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Re: An Overview Of the Bruckner Symphonies by Daniel Stavisky

Post by Jack Kelso » Wed Apr 21, 2010 7:40 am

Brucknerians?! How about Knappertsbusch? He had a way with Wagner all right, too.

There are many---just probably not quick-tempoed Zinman.... :roll:

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Re: An Overview Of the Bruckner Symphonies by Daniel Stavisky

Post by josé echenique » Wed Apr 21, 2010 8:45 am

Jack Kelso wrote:Brucknerians?! How about Knappertsbusch? He had a way with Wagner all right, too.

There are many---just probably not quick-tempoed Zinman.... :roll:

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At least in the few recordings he made of Bruckner symphonies, Kna used the weirdest editions ever, enough to rule him out as a serious Brucknerian.

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Re: An Overview Of the Bruckner Symphonies by Daniel Stavisky

Post by THEHORN » Wed Apr 21, 2010 9:46 am

As far as I know, Zinman has not conducted Bruckner so far, and he hasn't made any recordings of the symphonies. But we can't rule out the possibility that he might be a fine Brucknerian. He's almost finished recording the Mhaler symphonies for R.C.A. with his excellent Zurich Tonhalle orchestra,of which I've only heard the 6th so far.
Zinman might have some interesting new ideas about Bruckner.
Yes, Knappertsbusch used some of the old-fashioned corrupt editions of the Bruckner symphony,most notably his recording of the Joseph Schalk version of the 5th, with its massive cut in the finale etc, but his recordings are a fascinating glimpse into the bad old days of Bruckner performance, before the authentic versions became standard.

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Re: An Overview Of the Bruckner Symphonies by Daniel Stavisky

Post by Barry » Wed Apr 21, 2010 10:27 am

Chalkperson wrote:
Barry wrote:I guess I'd throw Tintner in there.
Unfortunate turn of phrase there, Barry, unfortunately Tintner killed himself by throwing himself off an 11 storey building in Nova Scotia after battling cancer for six years... :wink:
Oops. I'd forgotten about that.
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Re: An Overview Of the Bruckner Symphonies by Daniel Stavisky

Post by Barry » Wed Apr 21, 2010 10:28 am

danielstavisky wrote:I'd also add Stanisław Skrowaczewski as a Brucknerian and a fine one at that.
I agree. He slipped my mind.
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Re: An Overview Of the Bruckner Symphonies by Daniel Stavisky

Post by Barry » Wed Apr 21, 2010 10:31 am

Jack Kelso wrote:Brucknerians?! How about Knappertsbusch? He had a way with Wagner all right, too.
I'd put him in the same category as Tennstedt; someone who conducted a lot of Bruckner, and certainly was very skilled at conducting it, but it wasn't quite the core of his repertoire to the extent that it was for some of the others we've mentioned. He probably conducted as much Beethoven, Wagner and maybe Brahms too.
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Re: An Overview Of the Bruckner Symphonies by Daniel Stavisky

Post by DavidRoss » Wed Apr 21, 2010 11:54 am

Barry wrote:The Bruckner symphonies, especially 4-9, are among my favorite works, so I always appreciate it when someone brings up the topic of best recordings of them.

I agree that the BPO does a wonderful job in the fourth, but I would go with the Jocum/DG and Karajan/EMI recordings that they made. I prefer the former for a more aggressive approach, and the latter is IMO better than the Bohm/VPO recording for something a bit slower and more reverential in approach.

For five, again, I turn to Jochum, but I think his best available performance is one of his final ones, a live performance with the Concertgebouw Orchestra from 1986 that's on Tahra.

For six, while the first Bruckner recording to really grab me and pay attention to his music was the Klemperer/EMI sixth, I later discovered the Celibidache, also on EMI, and probably consider that my single favorite Bruckner recording, although I'm not generally a big Celi booster.

I think Karajan is tops in the seventh, and while I like his VPO recording on DG, my preference is again for the one on EMI with the BPO.

I agree with the recommendation for Karajan and the VPO for the eigth, only I think the live performance they gave about a decade earlier that's out on a DG DVD is even better.

For nine, Giulini/VPO is my fav0rite, but for a different approach, I also like Jochum/BPO very much.
I don't especially love Bruckner, finding that his meandering long-windedness damn near rivals that of his hero, Wagner, for indulgence crippling to artistic success. That is purely according to my own aesthetic. Others' mileages may vary, and many do. 8)

I do, however, admire Bruckner as one of the more interesting and distinctive symphonists ever as well as for his music's power to transport me to a state approximating otherworldly bliss...at least when I'm in the properly receptive frame of mind. I claim no great familiarity with the complete catalog of recordings of his symphonies, but I am aware that others besides Tintner have made fine recordings during the past 40 years. And I'm surprised to see that someone else's likes darned near mirror my own.

Although I'm no fan of Karajan's orchestral performances in general, to me he really nailed Bruckner, especially in the 7th, and Barry and I may be the only persons on earth who prefer his BP recording on EMI to the famous WP one on DGG. I also like his BP 4th, but my fave is Abbado/WP.

I'm least familiar with 5 but rather like Wand/NDRSO and posting this reminds me that I'm overdue for another go, perhaps with Skrowaczewski/SRSO this time, which I don't think I've heard since shortly after I bought it! 6--Horst Stein & the WP; 7--HvK BP or WP; 8-HvK/WP (Boulez is overdue for re-evaluation, however); 9--Giulini/WP.

Until responding here, I hadn't realized that virtually all the Bruckner recordings I most like are by the WP. The only one not is the 5th. Perhaps not coincidentally, for that is the one I've least connected with (of 4-9) and I have only 3 recordings of it. Maybe I'd better seek recommendations for a good one with the WP! :D
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Re: An Overview Of the Bruckner Symphonies by Daniel Stavisky

Post by Barry » Wed Apr 21, 2010 12:35 pm

DavidRoss wrote: ... Although I'm no fan of Karajan's orchestral performances in general, to me he really nailed Bruckner, especially in the 7th, and Barry and I may be the only persons on earth who prefer his BP recording on EMI to the famous WP one on DGG. I also like his BP 4th, but my fave is Abbado/WP. ...

... Until responding here, I hadn't realized that virtually all the Bruckner recordings I most like are by the WP. The only one not is the 5th. Perhaps not coincidentally, for that is the one I've least connected with (of 4-9) and I have only 3 recordings of it. Maybe I'd better seek recommendations for a good one with the WP! ... :D
To make it official, I also love that Abbado/VPO Bruckner 4th. It slipped my mind when I was listing my favorites, but it's up there.

And you aren't alone in thinking the VPO the best Bruckner orchestra on record if you look at their long history and all of the great Bruckner conductors they've worked with for over a century now. Although I think the BPO has also made more than its fair share of great Bruckner recordings. I'd probably put them as 1 and 1A for Bruckner orchestras. I don't think another orchestra owns a particular piece for me to the extent the VPO owns the Bruckner eighth.

On the fifth, I strongly recommend that Jochum/Concertgeobuw live performance from 1986 on Tahra (http://www.mdt.co.uk/MDTSite/product//TAH661-662.htm ... I'm not sure how available this is in the U.S.).

Also the Karajan/BPO recording on DG is one you'll probably like if you appreciate his way with Bruckner. You may be able to find it on-line used and coupled with the first symphony in a two-disc set (http://www.amazon.com/Anton-Bruckner-Sy ... 238&sr=1-1 I just checked and they have a couple used ones available for a resonable price).

Sinopoli's and Thielemann's recordings, as others have said, are also very good.

Also, I've given more thought to Knappertsbusch and I think I may have changed my mind. While he conducted plenty of other music, in his day, he may have conducted Bruckner as regularly as anyone. Are there any other conductors from his era that have recordings (live or studio) out of symphonies 3-9? Furtwangler conducted 4-9, although the only available performance of the sixth by him is missing the first movement.
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Re: An Overview Of the Bruckner Symphonies by Daniel Stavisky

Post by Chalkperson » Wed Apr 21, 2010 1:16 pm

Knappertsbusch's Bruckner 5th on Decca is excellent and the 3rd (coupled with Siegfried's Idyll) and 4th on Testament are also very good...I like Lovro von Matačić's 5th, 7th and 9th on Supraphon a great deal too...Matačić is a very underrated Conductor, also I really like the live 5th on Naive too...there is a Bruckner 3rd on BBC Legends and an 8th on Living Stage that I have never heard...
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Re: An Overview Of the Bruckner Symphonies by Daniel Stavisky

Post by Barry » Wed Apr 21, 2010 1:26 pm

Chalkperson wrote:Knappertsbusch's Bruckner 5th on Decca is excellent and the 3rd (coupled with Siegfried's Idyll) and 4th on Testament are also very good...I like Lovro von Matačić's 5th, 7th and 9th on Supraphon a great deal too...Matačić is a very underrated Conductor, also I really like the live 5th on Naive too...there is a Bruckner 3rd on BBC Legends and an 8th on Living Stage that I have never heard...
I also like his seventh and his eighth, which I believe is with the NHK Symphony of Japan. In fact, Matacic's recording of the eighth may be the only one under 80 minutes I've heard that I like a lot.

My favorite Knappertsbusch Bruckner recording, among those I've heard, is the live seventh with the VPO from the 1949 Salzburg Festival. Although there is a live eighth with the VPO from the early 60s that I've read for years is fantastic, but which I've yet to hear.
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Re: An Overview Of the Bruckner Symphonies by Daniel Stavisky

Post by Chalkperson » Wed Apr 21, 2010 1:28 pm

For anyone wanting a modern complete set of Bruckner, then Skrowaczewski's readings with the Starbrucken RSO on Oehms is a very good Box to buy, his Beethoven Cycle with the same Orchestra is excellent too...
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Re: An Overview Of the Bruckner Symphonies by Daniel Stavisky

Post by Jack Kelso » Wed Apr 21, 2010 2:56 pm

Chalkperson wrote:Knappertsbusch's Bruckner 5th on Decca is excellent and the 3rd (coupled with Siegfried's Idyll) and 4th on Testament are also very good...I like Lovro von Matačić's 5th, 7th and 9th on Supraphon a great deal too...Matačić is a very underrated Conductor, also I really like the live 5th on Naive too...there is a Bruckner 3rd on BBC Legends and an 8th on Living Stage that I have never heard...
Thank you, Chalkie---thank you. Yes, indeed! Despite the cymbals in the coda (or maybe because of them!) this great Knappertsbusch LONDON recording of the Fifth remains one of not only historic interest, rather of great interpretive importance. Maybe Hugo Wolf was right (but a bit excessive!):

"One cymbal crash from Bruckner is worth more than all four Brahms symphonies, the serenades thrown in."

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Re: An Overview Of the Bruckner Symphonies by Daniel Stavisky

Post by Heck148 » Wed Apr 21, 2010 3:05 pm

Barry wrote:I don't think another orchestra owns a particular piece for me to the extent the VPO owns the Bruckner eighth.
The CSO "owns" Mahler Sym #5 at least as convincingly, if not more so. same with Bartok Con/Orch and Miraculous Mandarin.

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Re: An Overview Of the Bruckner Symphonies by Daniel Stavisky

Post by Jack Kelso » Wed Apr 21, 2010 3:16 pm

Heck148 wrote:
Barry wrote:I don't think another orchestra owns a particular piece for me to the extent the VPO owns the Bruckner eighth.
The CSO "owns" Mahler Sym #5 at least as convincingly, if not more so. same with Bartok Con/Orch and Miraculous Mandarin.
Maybe until you've heard Levine's Philadelphia Orchestra recording of Mahler's Fifth. The conductor makes all the difference!

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Re: An Overview Of the Bruckner Symphonies by Daniel Stavisky

Post by Heck148 » Wed Apr 21, 2010 3:22 pm

Jack Kelso wrote:
Heck148 wrote:
Barry wrote:I don't think another orchestra owns a particular piece for me to the extent the VPO owns the Bruckner eighth.
The CSO "owns" Mahler Sym #5 at least as convincingly, if not more so. same with Bartok Con/Orch and Miraculous Mandarin.
Maybe until you've heard Levine's Philadelphia Orchestra recording of Mahler's Fifth. The conductor makes all the difference!
It's good, but the CSO has performed and recorded it splendidly, so many times, with different conductors, that the conductor almost doesn't matter. these musicians really know how to put this work across...all else are imitations, wannabees. :)

actually, the whole concept of an orchestra, an ensemble, or a performer "owning a piece" is most unattractive to me, and not one I usually support.

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Re: An Overview Of the Bruckner Symphonies by Daniel Stavisky

Post by Barry » Wed Apr 21, 2010 4:19 pm

Heck148 wrote:
Barry wrote:I don't think another orchestra owns a particular piece for me to the extent the VPO owns the Bruckner eighth.
The CSO "owns" Mahler Sym #5 at least as convincingly, if not more so. same with Bartok Con/Orch and Miraculous Mandarin.
I was pretty clear that I was giving a fully subjective position. And I wasn't trying to start a pissing match about which orchestras play which pieces best. But since you wanted to, I'll give another fully subjective thought. The CSO doesn't even come close to owning the Mahler 5. Sorry.

But this is a Bruckner thread and I merely chimed in following David's comment on how wonderful of a Bruckner orchestra the VPO has been. I'll start another thread on the topic of orchestras owning pieces and everyone can have at it in there rather than sidetracking this thread.
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Re: An Overview Of the Bruckner Symphonies by Daniel Stavisky

Post by Heck148 » Wed Apr 21, 2010 5:33 pm

Barry wrote:
The CSO doesn't even come close to owning the Mahler 5.
sure it does, to a far greater extent than the VPO "owns" anything.

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Re: An Overview Of the Bruckner Symphonies by Daniel Stavisky

Post by Barry » Wed Apr 21, 2010 5:44 pm

Heck148 wrote:Barry wrote:
The CSO doesn't even come close to owning the Mahler 5.
sure it does, to a far greater extent than the VPO "owns" anything.
I hope you don't mind, but I'll copy and paste this to the other thread so as not to further disrupt this one from its intended topic.
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Re: An Overview Of the Bruckner Symphonies by Daniel Stavisky

Post by arthound » Wed Apr 21, 2010 6:53 pm

Chalkperson wrote:For anyone wanting a modern complete set of Bruckner, then Skrowaczewski's readings with the Starbrucken RSO on Oehms is a very good Box to buy, his Beethoven Cycle with the same Orchestra is excellent too...
I concur and would also like to add his Bruckner 4 with the Halle as well...

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